The government has proposed a 10% increase in salaries of members of parliament and four constitutional position holders, departing from its earlier policy of not giving additional monetary benefits to an already privileged class.
The parliamentary affairs ministry has moved a formal summary for giving a 10% increase in salaries of members of parliament, sources told The Express Tribune.
The proposal also includes a 10% raise in the pay of speaker and deputy speaker of National Assembly and chairman and deputy chairman of Senate, they added.
Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said that he was not privy to the proposal but “the ministers have already rejected pay increase for the cabinet”.
Sources said that Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his capacity as Minister In charge of Parliamentary Affairs, has allowed the summary for a 10% increase in salaries for cabinet’s approval.
The government has invoked Section 14B of the Members of Parliament (Salaries and Allowances) Act 1974 to increase the salaries of parliamentarians, said the sources.
The section empowers the government to increase the salaries, allowances and privileges of parliament members in line with the increase in salaries of civil servants.
In the budget, the government had increased the salaries of bureaucrats and staff by 10%.
However, there is no direct comparison between the financial conditions of salaried class and the elite club of the country – the members of National Assembly and Senate.
The government has proposed that the monthly salary of Senate chairman and National Assembly speaker should be increased from Rs205,000 to Rs225,500, an increase of 10%.
Similarly, it has been proposed to increase the salary of Senate deputy chairman and National Assembly deputy speaker from Rs185,000 to Rs203,500.
The salaries of parliament members are proposed to be increased from Rs150,000 to Rs165,000, the sources added.
The increase is also proposed for parliamentary secretaries and chairpersons of dozens of standing committees of the National Assembly and the Senate.
In addition to this salary, the parliamentarians are also entitled to free air travel, free medical treatment and also get allowances for attending sessions of parliament and its standing committees.
At the same time, the common citizens are exposed to a double-digit increase in prices of essential commodities due to heavy taxation, rupee devaluation and increase in commodity prices in the international market.
The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported last Friday that the year-on-year Sensitive Price Indicator-based inflation rate jumped to “13.64% with most of the items increased, mainly electricity for Q1 (poorest quintile) 46.5%, LPG 45.7%, vegetable ghee (1 kg) 40.7%, chicken 38.6% and vegetable ghee (2.5 kg) 37.3%”.
The increase in inflation rate for the poorest 20% segment of society was over 17%, according to the PBS.
Indirect taxes on almost every consumable good were driving prices higher, as the government now collects 55% of total taxes at the import stage, including on consumable goods.
In addition to that, there are heavy taxes on their sale prices, which leave little for the salaried class to make both ends meet.
The government has already approved a further 15% increase in salaries of all the ranks of armed forces aimed at compensating for the minimal or no increase in their salaries during the past two years and ending disparities in pay structures.
This brought the total increase in the salaries of armed forces to 25% after including a 10% ad hoc allowance that the government announced in the budget for civilian and armed forces employees.
For fiscal year 2019-20, the federal government had not given any increase in salaries to the armed forces and the civilian employees. A year earlier, a 10% to 15% increase had been given only up to grade 19 employees, leaving the rest of the employees high and dry.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2021.
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